Altered Tastes: Fresh Mushrooms

Everyone has experiences that change the way they perceive one of their five senses. Altered Tastes is an ongoing feature where I discuss culinary moments that rewire my sense of taste forever. Without further adieu...

I love mushrooms. Love them. I will judge any produce section by the variety and quality of their mushrooms. Usually, I am into the exotics. Mushrooms that can't be easily cultivated. You know, the good stuff. But I digress, because today, I discuss:

The White Button Mushroom

The garden-variety, white button mushroom.

The vanilla of fungus, found plastic-wrapped in produce aisles at every grocery store. Sliced raw atop all the most uninspired salads I have eaten. I've never given this mushroom much consideration. In fact, I am generally prejudiced against them.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a mushroom farm. Walking past a steaming pile of compost, and I mean steaming, we entered one of the pens.

A Mushroom Wonderland

Mushroom studded compost pallets extended as far as the eye can see. It was a cross between an alien landscape and a perverse marshmallow-mushroom nightmare.

"Can We Taste Them?"

"Sure." said our guide.

Whoa.

With a simple twist, the entire mushroom came out of the soil.

I do not like raw mushrooms. I do not like them.

Wiping off of the small amounts of dirt...

Don't mushrooms grow in poo?

I hesitantly took a bite.

It was incredible.

Meaty with a delicate, earthy flavor. Moist. None of that dry woodiness, or 'shroom slime. Another bite and the mushroom was gone.

What the hell have I been eating all of these years?

In a single bite, every white button mushroom I have ever eaten immediately became stale.
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